The process that cardiac cushions undergo to form the mature septa and valves of the adult heart is poorly understood. Periostin is an extracellular molecule that is expressed during cushion mesenchyme formation and throughout valvulogenesis. Once thought to be an osteoblast-specific factor, studies have shown this molecule is antiosteogenic. We have produced an antibody to chicken periostin and examined periostin's localization in the developing avian heart. This antibody recognized proteins from chick heart lysates around 90 kD molecular weight as predicted from the chick periostin mRNA and other periostin orthologs. Periostin immunolocalization was first evident as fibrous strands in the cushion mesenchyme. At HH25, periostin was detected on the basal surface of the trabecular endothelium and also on the endocardial epithelium of the atrioventricular cushion. We hypothesize that periostin may function in the organization of extracellular matrix molecules, providing cues necessary for attachment and spreading during the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transitions of the endocardial epithelium. Enhanced secretion of periostin in the region of delamination may directly or indirectly promote change in the myocardium that precedes or mediates delamination of the leaflet. At later stages of development (HH34-38), periostin was seen predominantly in the fibrous regions of the heart, such as the left atrioventricular valve (LAV), annulus, cardiac skeleton, and adventitia. We propose that periostin is induced by sheer stress and may be an essential molecular component for structures of the heart that undergo mechanical stress or tension during the cardiac cycle. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.